Private Internet Access Reviews and Expert Opinion

What do we look at?

Speed

Servers

User Experience

Support

Pricing

Private Internet Access Overview

Private Internet Access (PIA) is an exception to the Five Eyes rule — despite its less-than-favorable location, it still delivers a great service.

This VPN makes its home in the lion’s den — the United States. Questions about users’ guaranteed privacy are immediately raised, but there is little to no reason for concern. PIA enforces a strict zero-logging policy, and even though it has to comply with US jurisdiction, it has proven itself as a reliable provider. Case in point — the VPN ceased operations in Russia following new legislation that would force it to disclose personal information if necessary.

As for features, it’ll be difficult to find a better-equipped VPN than PIA in its price range. You get a kill switch, DNS leak protection, top-level encryption, SOCKS5 compatibility, and support for every protocol apart from IKEv2. Up to 5 simultaneous connections are included.

PIA has one of the biggest server rosters in the industry — over 3,000. They are spread across 25 countries, which is nothing special, but still enough for unblocking content. However, keep in mind that US Netflix is a hit-or-miss with this VPN — we had mixed results.

Speeds are reasonable, with reductions well within the acceptable limits. In short, PIA isn’t the fastest VPN around, but that won’t result in annoying buffering problems or severe latency spikes.

One area that could use some serious improvement is customer support. Although PIA’s live chat is good enough, their ticket system is often referred to as sluggish and unresponsive.

Overall, PIA remains a very capable VPN, especially for its price tag. Despite occasional hiccups in customer service, this provider is resourceful, transparent, and well-established. You can even test it yourself and get a refund, thanks to the 7-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Doesn't keep sensitive user metadata
  • Over 3,000 servers to choose from
  • Feature-rich — kill switch, DNS leak protection, SOCKS5 proxy, and more
  • Extremely affordable
  • Good speeds
  • Auto-connect feature
  • Up to 5 connected devices at the same time
  • Money-back guarantee

Cons

  • US-based (Although we are certain of PIA's commitment to its users' ensured privacy, the fact it's based in the heart of the Five Eyes has to be listed as a potential disadvantage.)
  • Shaky Netflix unblocking

Compare with Alternatives

8.8  / 10
8.9  / 10
8.0  / 10
8.9  / 10
8.8  / 10
9.8  / 10

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Speed8.9

Not bad at all! While Private Internet Access (PIA) doesn’t deliver cyclonic speeds in comparison to its rivals, such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN, it offers above average speeds reliable enough for streaming videos in HD. The lowest speeds came from their servers in Hong Kong and Australia. On the other hand, if you have a robust internet connection, speed flaws will be insignificant.

Why Most Speed Tests are Pointless & How We Correctly Test VPN Speeds

Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.

Servers8.0

Private Internet Access has over 3,000 servers in 43 locations across 28 countries.

Server Locations

AustriaAustria
AustraliaAustralia
BelgiumBelgium
BrazilBrazil
CanadaCanada
SwitzerlandSwitzerland
Czech RepublicCzech Republic
GermanyGermany
DenmarkDenmark
SpainSpain
FinlandFinland
FranceFrance
United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Hong KongHong Kong
IrelandIreland
See all supported locations...

User Experience8.9

Downloading, installing, and configuring PIA is easy enough — it won’t take more than 5 minutes of your time.

The desktop clients are, in a word, minimalistic — they aren’t overloaded with information. We enjoyed this type of interface, but we can also see how it would be frustrating for users that like more options available to them.

Mobile GUIs are simple and effective — however, if you want to use PIA’s own iOS app, you’ll be limited to the IPSec protocol. For OpenVPN, you’ll need to use the namesake app with your PIA credentials, and IKEv2, as mentioned, isn’t supported.

A cool quality-of-life feature is PIA’s auto-connect. We aren’t talking about choosing a location/server automatically (you can do that), but launching the VPN as soon as it’s opened. It saves some time and we found it very handy.

Support8.8

You have a choice between 24-hour live chat and tickets — the former performs well enough with fast response times and helpful answers, but the latter is quite the disappointment. We directed our more complex inquiries via a ticket, and we had to wait several days for a reply. If customer feedback is any guide, we are one of the lucky ones, too.

On the upside, there is a great knowledge base, including a blog maintained Rick Falkvinge — PIA’s Head of Privacy and founder of Sweden’s Pirate Party.

How We Test Customer Support and Why Should You Care

We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.

Pricing9.8

One of PIA’s biggest advantages is its price — basically, you get a superb VPN for pocket change.

Another bonus is the one-week money-back guarantee — we’d like it to be a bit longer, but for what the VPN costs, we are pleasantly surprised to even see this valuable feature being offered.

PIA’s payment methods range from standard credit cards to Starbucks gift cards — here’s a full list:

Credit Card — VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover, JCB
PayPal
Amazon Pay
Bitcoin
Bitcoin Cash
Zcash
CashU
OK Pay
Mint
Mobiamo
Gift cards (over 90 retailers)

Private Internet Access offers the following plans

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